UPDATE: 11/24/2020 at 6:30 PM CST
(New Orleans, LA) The New Orleans Saints are waiting to see if they will be without fans, again in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is toughening COVID-19 restrictions in Louisiana.
A fierce third spike in coronavirus is soaring with increased cases and hospitalization, so Louisiana is now in Phase 2, AGAIN. The new restrictions will take effect Wednesday and expire on December 23, 2020, before the Saints host the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Day.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell worked in partnership with the New Orleans Saints to launch a phased and deliberate pilot approach to safely allow fans to attend Saints games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The last few games went well as season ticket holders had access to 3,000 tickets for the Panthers game. The team increased capacity to 6,000 fans for the 49ers and Falcons home games. The plan was to increase to 15,000 for the Kansas City (December 20th) matchup, but that came to a stretching halt.
Governor Edwards announced a “modified Phase 2” during a press conference decreasing customers allowed in sporting events, gyms, restaurants, salons, casinos, malls, and other nonessential businesses from 75% occupancy rate to 50%. Churches must cap-off their capacity at 75% as well.
- Sporting events are limited to 25% capacity
- Gyms and fitness center limited to 50% capacity
- Restaurants, coffee shops, cafes limited to 50% capacity
- Casinos and video poker are limited to 50% capacity
- Non-essential retail is limited to 50% capacity
- Churches and places of worship limited to 75% capacity
- Indoor gatherings limited to 25% occupancy or up to 75 people
- Outdoor gatherings limited to 25% occupancy or up to 150 people
- Bars can be open to on-premises inside consumption for parishes under 5% positivity. Bars with positivity OVER 5% can do outdoor consumption. Still capped at 25% capacity.
The problem started in March when New Orleans led the nation in COVID-19 deaths per capita. The Mayor was clear that she was not ready to host 20,000 fans in the Mercedes Benz Superdome while fighting the spread of COVID-19. The Mayor shared,
There is not an indoor stadium in America that is having a large number of fans in the stands right now," she said. "And, for good reason.
THE SAINTS AND VENUESHIELD PLAN
The Mercedes Benz Superdome has gone beyond the norm to put in place protocols to provide a safe environment for home games. Superdome officials say they have put together a 1,000-page plan called venue shield and instituted changes designed to make the Superdome COVID-19 safe.
The Saints and the Superdome are doing everything they can to keep fans, players, and the staff safe. The nationwide COVID-19 pandemic is forcing facility operators around the globe to revise management and operations protocols. The New Orleans Saints and Mercedes Benz Superdome had 166,180 square feet to consider.
ASM Global/Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Saints, the NFL, Ochsner Hospital Systems, and the CDC have partnered with local and state governments to create an impressive plan to reactivate the Dome. The program is called VenueShield and is one of the most comprehensive plans in the NFL.
When fans return to the Superdome, they will instantly notice the VenueShield, signage that ASM Global, and partners Ochsner Health System and the New Orleans Saints created VenueShield of best in class reactivation plan.
The team’s proposal provides the most advanced hygienic safeguards and operating protocols for arenas. The VenueShield protocols include social distancing markers, plexiglass, face covering, and constant reminders inside the facility. Enhanced sanitation practices are in the Dome and the stands. The Superdome football field will have liquid disinfection and scrubbed four times during the 2020 season.
Between the cleanings, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome's field turf will be treated with the Green Zapper. It uses a germicidal and ultraviolet light to instantly destroy 99.9 percent of harmful microorganisms, including the field seats and concession stands. The Mercedes Benz Superdome will host the cleanest football ever played today.